New to Canada? Depending on where you’ve come from, you may find yourself surrounded by unfamiliar types of food. But even if Canadian cuisine is similar to what you eat at home, living on your own in a new place can mean radical shifts in your diet—especially when you’re a busy student who might not have time to cook elaborate meals, or who might end up relying on takeout meals more often than not.
As you adjust your diet to your new surroundings, it’s important to keep balanced nutrition in mind. That’s where Canada’s Food Guide comes in: a simple nutrition tool developed by the Canadian government. While the Food Guide has undergone many revisions and adjustments over the years, the basic principle remains the same: to help people of all ages make the right food and nutrition choices for a healthy lifestyle.
How do I know if Canada’s Food Guide is for me?
Canada’s Food Guide was developed after extensive scientific research and is geared towards the general population. It can help most people meet their energy, protein, fat, vitamin, and mineral needs. However, if you have a specific medical condition (e.g., diabetes) or special dietary requirements, the Food Guide recommendations may not be appropriate for you. Consult with a doctor or a registered dietitian to determine whether the types of food and number of servings outlined in the Guide meet your needs.
The Food Guide includes examples of foods that are used in different dishes and cultures. In your case, you may not eat certain foods listed, or you may use them for different recipes. Even so, the Guide includes useful information that will help you make the right dietary choices.
Think of the Food Guide as a learning tool, and adapt it as needed to meet your individual preferences.
How can the Food Guide help me?
Canada’s Food Guide is designed to help you include the right combination of foods from all of the food groups. Eating a variety of foods from each group will help you meet your daily nutritional needs.
The Food Guide can also help you:
- Understand the recommended number of servings from each food group, based on your age and gender
- Plan a balanced meal by choosing a food from each food group
- Estimate the number of servings that make up a meal, especially when eating out
Health Canada provides additional helpful tools to manage your nutrition, including:
- My Food Guide: Create your own personal food guide according to your age, gender, food preferences, and favourite physical activities.
- My Food Guide Servings Tracker: Print this PDF and check off a box each time you consume a Food Guide serving.
- eaTracker: Keep track of your daily food intake as well as how often you engage in physical activities and compare your habits to what Health Canada recommends with this online tool. EaTracker provides you with individual feedback, and can help you work toward achieving or maintaining a healthy body weight.
Where can I get a copy of Canada’s Food Guide?
- Order a copy of the latest version, Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide, from the Health Canada website
- View Canada’s Food Guide (requires Adobe Reader) online
- Download a printer-friendly version (requires Adobe Reader) of the Guide
View the rest of the articles on Ingle International for more travel guides and tips.
(Last reviewed July 10, 2014)
- Dietitians of Canada. (2010). Advancing health through food and nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.dietitians.ca.
- Health Canada. (2009). Eating well with Canada’s food guide. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php.